Michelle and Ben Rosenau, with their dog Charlie Brown, stand next to a Little Free Library the couple made and placed on their property east of Hallock in memory of Michelle’s mother, Carole Gatheridge.
(Enterprise Photo by Anna Jauhola)
By Anna Jauhola
When Michelle Rosenau’s mother died in 2014, she wondered what to do with all her books.
Carole Gatheridge loved reading and Rosenau was the Pembina city librarian during the 1990s, so when Rosenau discovered Little Free Libraries it was a natural decision.
“I fell in love with them,” Michelle said. “I got the idea of building a library in her memory.”
Carole loved old, antiquey things and Michelle’s husband, Ben, can build anything. So, the couple repurposed fun materials, like tin roofing and old cupboard doors, to build the first library. They built it to better withstand the extreme elements, registered it with at www.littlefreelibraries.org and dedicated to her mother.
“It’s been a fun thing to do for us,” Michelle said. “We
Their first Little Free Library sits just a short distance down their driveway in an open area of their yard. They have it labeled with a sign that says “Library Parking,” plus a renovated bench that belonged to Carole and several other decorations. The couple lives just off U.S. Highway 175 east of Hallock – the place marked with a purple mailbox and a street sign that says “Vikings Lane.”
Michelle said it seems some are hesitant to pull into a private drive, but everyone is welcome to visit the little library.
She wanted this Little Free Library to be an extension of the Hallock Public Library, noting that some people aren’t able to visit during regular hours.
“When it’s closed, you can come get a book from the little library,” Rosenau said.
Peggy Pearson, Hallock city librarian, said Free Little Libraries are a real asset to rural communities like those in Kittson County.
“You can just drive up to them at any time of the day or night, take a book or a few books, maybe leave a couple of your own,” Peggy said. “These Free Little Libraries make books available to people 24/7.”
With that same thought, the Rosenaus also built and placed a Free Little Library in Humboldt where Michelle grew up.
“We learned a lot in the process,” Michelle said. “We had to get permission to dig and put cement in the ground.”
They received approval from the town council and the U.S. Postal Service to place the library in front of the Humboldt Post Office. She said the building is a gathering place for the town’s residents and is getting a lot of use.
The Rosenaus are now working on developing a Free Little Library for the Lake Bronson community. The couple found a little library at Turtle River State Park and thought it would be a great addition to Kittson County’s own Lake Bronson State Park.
“We thought, ‘Oh, for cool! All state parks should have one of these,’” Michelle said. “If you’re camping and it’s raining, how cool to have a library and be able to grab a book.”
She hopes that if the state park agrees, they will place a library inside the Visitor’s Center.
Michelle also maintains social media pages for the libraries she and her husband established to share events happening in the area and just keep people informed.
“It’s a labor of love,” Michelle said of the libraries.